Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 13th, 2012

Cedar

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Ashe juniper at Pedernales Falls State Park; click for greater clarity.

My eyes and nose and throat yesterday morning told me that here in central Texas we’ve entered the season for what local tradition calls cedar fever. I don’t know about other people, but I have no fever, and the tree whose pollen causes my allergic symptoms isn’t actually a cedar but an Ashe juniper, Juniperus ashei, an evergreen that’s quite common in these parts.* At this time of year the males of the species release large amounts of pollen to make the female trees happy, even if many males and females of the human species suffer as a result.

Anyhow, thinking about that and about an old black and white portrait that I linked to in one of yesterday’s comments, I got the idea to do something different today by jumping back to a photograph of an Ashe juniper that I took early one August morning in 1976 at Pedernales Falls State Park, some 45 miles west of Austin. Landscape photographers are known for getting up and going out in the dark so they can set up for the “magic light” of dawn, and this was one of the rare times I did something like that, even if I was using black and white film. The film also happened to be infrared, which records light in the range that certain animals can see but that we can’t. As a result, the foliage of the juniper and of other plants and trees, though dark green, showed up as a frosty white (and anyone who knows Texas in August knows the irony of using the word frosty to describe it). The early morning sky, though blue, showed up black, thanks to a red filter I used on my camera to enhance the infrared effect.

About a third of the way down the picture you may have noticed the layers of an early morning cloudbank that I think soon dissipated. In the lower portion of the photograph you see the Ashe juniper reflected in water from the Pedernales River. I found the sinuous shape made by the tree and its reflection to be attractive, and I still do after three dozen years.

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* If you’ve been reading this column for a while you may remember that in addition to yesterday’s post a couple of earlier ones showed this type of tree:

one from the end of September about a squirrel in the Ashe juniper outside my window;

one from the first month of this blog about the way the Ashe junipers were shedding leaves and fruit during the drought.

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© 1976 and © 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2012 at 5:10 AM

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